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woman grabbing canned food from shelf

College students constitute a vulnerable population that endures the effects of Hawaiʻi’s high cost of living. The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is aiming to reduce food insecurity, a situation where consistent and reliable access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources, through a new food pantry on campus.

Food Vault Hawaiʻi, a new food pantry at UH Mānoa, is a free service available for students without reliable access to affordable food. All registered UH Mānoa students with a valid student ID can access the food vault.

The Associated Students of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (ASUH), Office of Student Life and Development, Campus Center Board and Student Activity and Program Fee Board collaborated to create the three-year pilot program to address food insecurity at UH Mānoa.

A survey by Joannie Dobbs, assistant specialist in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, raised the issue about student food insecurity on the UH Mānoa campus with ASUH. The survey indicated “that about 50 percent of UH Mānoa undergraduate students who completed the survey have experienced food insecurity and about 37 percent of UH Mānoa undergraduate students who completed the survey are experiencing moderate to severe hunger.”

ASUH representatives Maggie Hinshaw, Jessica Chen, Clinton Ng, Jungha Kim and Nicole Hortizuela began working on Food Vault Hawaiʻi with faculty advisor Bonnyjean Manini to address food insecurity on their campus.

“I envisioned the food pantry to be a readily available resource open to all UH Mānoa students through the efforts of the campus community,” said Hinshaw. “I hope that Food Vault Hawaiʻi will be able to help students in need while illustrating the importance of community-based giving.”

Accessing the food vault

Food Vault Hawaii building
Food Vault Hawaiʻi is next to Ba-Le on campus.

The pantry is stocked with non-perishable items and equipped with a student ID scanner. Students need to swipe to enter, but the food vault will not collect their personal information. Food Vault Hawaiʻi will receive regular reports from the ID office that include student status (undergraduate or graduate) and number of visits to help with the development of the service over the next three years.

“We are committed to protecting anonymity and will not receive student names or full ID numbers from the ID office,” said Kim. “To those who are experiencing food insecurity, please come to use our service.”

The Food Vault Hawaiʻi pantry is open three days a week in Hemenway 111.

  • Monday: 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
  • Thursday: Noon–4 p.m.
  • Friday: 2 p.m.–6 p.m.

Donations welcomed

The food vault accepts donations such as canned goods, boxed cereals and dry pasta at the Office of Student Life and Development in Campus Center 208, Monday to Friday, during regular business hours.

In addition, monetary donations can be given online to the Food Vault Hawaiʻi through the UH Foundation.

—By Sarah Hendrix

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